Friday, March 6, 2015

Why do we educate our children?

"Ultimately, the current educational system was designed to meet different needs and goals than we currently face in the information age." William Watson

Sir Ken Robinson, Wikipedia photo

I started the readings on Monday night by viewing the video of Sir Ken R0bertson. He was entertaining and believable while I was in his spell. I was so excited about the information. When I went in to school on Tuesday, reality set in. I interacted with teachers who are trying to cram 180 days' of instruction into 90 days, are missing too much instructional time because of snow events, and have upcoming district-wide and high-stakes tests to prepare students for... which also detract from class time. 

How do we slow down and let students be creative? 

I came upon a discussion with one the security guards and a coach in the lobby about the high cost of college education, which caused me to recall the Sir Ken's  comments about how a college education used to mean a guaranteed job, but you now need a Masters' or Doctorate to for that guarantee. (I was intrigued, so I watched one of his TED talks.) I left school thinking, "Why do we educate our children?"

On Tuesday, I chose to read the selection about Interactive Learning Environments. The quote at the top of this page jumped out at me. "Ultimately, the current educational system was designed to meet different needs and goals than we currently face in the information age." Until we set a purpose for education, we are spinning our wheels. Is our purpose job-training? Are we looking for an across-the-board base-knowledge for students to build on? Are we preparing students to build a resume for college acceptance? Are we preparing students to thrive in the 21st Century? Seriously, why do we "do" school?

CMS's - Course Managements Systems
PLE's - Personal Learning Environments
PIES - Personalized, Inegrated Education Systems

Students must "buy into" education. At my school, we have "all the bells and whistles": a high school diploma, trade education, college scholarship possibilities, work-based learning... and many students are not motivated. They see no value in education... until after graduation. Many students come back and lament about how they wished they had taken school seriously.

There are so many easy-seeming options available to today's youth. There is no need to interact with others. The computer is right there. Spell? The computer can do that. Calculate? There's an app for that.

Our job, as teachers is to make learning personal, valid, meaningful, practical, REAL. There is no need to calculate a correct answer unless the answer is personal. There is  no need to spell something correctly unless the reason is personal. We have amazing tools at our disposal. (Databases vs. Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature - or Easybib vs. hand-crafting a bibliography) Whether we structure activities on paper or in the cloud, using a 3 ring binder or in our Google Classroom, we need to make the material relevant. 

Here is a link to my STORIFY for the week.

William R. Watson , Sunnie Lee Watson & Charles M. Reigeluth (2013): Education 3.0:      
        breaking the mold with technology, Interactive Learning Environments,DOI:10.1080/
Robinson, Sir Ken. Educating the Heart and Mind.
Robinson, Sir Ken. Do Schools Kill Creativity?

As an aside: We have so much in the USA.  Education is "free" for everyone. Our politicians fight about it. We struggle to engage the kids. We sink more and more money and time into gadgets and software and teacher training.
In poor countries, where education is either expensive or rare, it is valued - even in an overcrowded one-room schoolhouse with no supplies or desks. Why?

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